To Get There, We Must Leave Here
So death is at work in us, but life in you. 2 Corinthians 4:12
If you’d have asked me 15 years ago if I wanted my kids to grow up, go to college, get married, and have families of their own someday, I’d have said, “Of course I want that!” That was a long time ago though when the leaving was less tangible. Now, as they’re both actually leaving for college, it doesn’t seem like such a grand idea. To attempt to keep them from growing up though, continually treating them like children, and keeping them home, would be bizarre and destructive. Growth and change should be normal and to remain in a state of arrested development would be dreadfully unhealthy. For my kids to get somewhere in life, they must leave something behind. I do understand that, but still, there’s a big part of me that doesn’t want the change to come.
I’ve felt this reluctance in other areas of my life. It’s not the exact same, but in my drug addiction, if you’d have asked me what I most wanted a year in the future, I’d have said I wanted to be living in recovery. I desperately desired that for tomorrow. Every day when I got up though, sobriety didn’t seem like such a grand thing. Every day when I got up, I just wanted one more day of my pills. One more day turned into a few thousand days though. The problem was that even though part of me wanted something for the future, I wasn’t willing to do what it took now to get there. To get someplace new meant leaving behind the old, and the leaving was terribly painful to do.
In today’s passage, Paul said that it’s in our trials that we identify with Jesus’ death, which we must do so that his life may be made manifest in us. This is a recurring theme in the Bible – that to find the new life, the old one must die. To get there, we must leave here. We cannot cling to the old life while enjoying the new one.
This isn’t a once and done process. This is something we must do daily (Luke 9:23). Some struggles seem to return to life as often as we put them to death. We won’t be made perfect in this life, but if we desire to continue to grow (as we’re meant to), we must daily make a conscious choice to do whatever it takes to leave behind the old life, embracing the new one. Sometimes this will be painful and violent, but to get where we truly want to go, we must abandon the place where we’ve been.